Colorado Prisoners Make Connection to Kids Through Innovative Reading Program

Image courtesy syracuse.comDianne Frazee-Walker

Ricardo Garcia, 28, reads to his nephew, Noah, from a Colorado prison. Garcia is incarcerated for a burglary conviction and parole violation. He has hopes that by exposing his nephew to literature, Noah will have a chance to live a different life than his uncle.

“Before, when I was out on the streets I was not a good example for him,” Garcia said. “I have a desire to be there for him. I want to be a good role model. I really hope they see that education is important and that reading is important.”

Garcia and other inmates are changing the grim statistics that children of incarcerated parents are six times more likely to end up in prison.

The reading program, Read to the Children is an innovative idea directed by Diane Waldon, state librarian.

Read to the Children entails inmates who have a good behavior record reading children’s stories to their kids. The parent’s voices are recorded on a DVD and sent to their children or loved ones. The postage is paid by the participating inmates.

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Non-Violent Communication Course Helps Chaffee County Detention Center Inmates

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

In 2004, I was falsely accused of a crime. I did not foresee how this unfortunate situation was going to morph into changing many lives in a positive way. In 2006, I founded Full Circle Restorative Justice in Chaffee County Colorado, which is a 501 c 3 non-profit   organization committed to facilitating victims and offenders to reconcile crimes and minimize involvement  with the legal system. The goal of the process is to lower the recidivism rate.   Image courtesy

 I was introduced to the Non-Violent Communication founded by Marshall B. Rosenberg Ph. D. in 2007.  Patty La Taille, who is the current Executive Director of Full Circle Restorative Justice, and I initiated a bi-monthly Non-Violent Communication study group. We used Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication, A Language of Life 2nd edition and the companion workbook as our guide. We appropriately named our group meeting Compassionate Listening Study Group.  I recognized the value of this innovative approach to mediation and communication skills and had a vision of incorporating it into the justice system.

Patty La Taille has taken Non-Violent Communication to a higher level in Chaffee County. She has attended two of Marshall Rosenberg’s (NVC) intensive workshops, and brought her newly acquired skills back to Salida, Colorado. La Taille facilitates NVC study groups at the Salida Middle School and Chaffee County Detention center. She, along with board member Karen, Latvala is educating students about new ways to resolve conflict with their peers.

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Prison Parenting Program Boosts Visitation

Dianne-Frazee Walker

The most significant benefit of the Inside Out Parenting Program offered in Oregon prisons is increased visitation which results in a lower recidivism rate. Research has proven that inmates who receive abundant visitation are less likely to reoffend when they return to the community.   Photo courtesy

Parenting Inside Out (PIO) is a parenting program offered in Oregon prisons for over ten years. The program was initiated by the Oregon Social Learning Center and the Oregon Department of Corrections. The reason why PIO works is the program encourages individuals to visit incarcerated family members often. The positive outcome is family relationships are nourished, which provides motivation for incarcerated parents to reconnect with their children.

The Oregon Social Learning Center conducted a randomized controlled study to test the outcomes of (PIO) participants. Empirical results of the study provided the impact PIO has on incarcerated parents. The study presents evidence that both male and female inmate parents who took PIO classes improved their parenting skills and relationships with their children.

359 incarcerated parents participated in the experiment. Both mothers and fathers were randomly divided into two groups. Half of the parents participated in parenting classes and the other half did not.

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By George Hook

Before a targeted inmate goes off half-cocked, gets physically aggressive and winds up in more trouble than an antagonistic inmate or Correctional Officer has caused or can cause other, better options should be considered as alternatives.  Physical retaliatory aggression would constitute a crime subject either to official judicial or administrative action and punishment.  So that should be out completely.  What might be even more troublesome is ever escalating retaliation. “Kicking one’s can down the road,” to paraphrase from the current Congressional Fiscal Standoff, is not a viable solution. 

First, figure out what is causing the antagonism.  Parsing the cause is possible from observation, inquiry, and reputation.  Everyone will know something, at least, about a targeted inmate’s antagonist.  If the cause can be eliminated or modified, that should be done as the best, most expeditious solution.  A manner of speaking, an objectionable expression, a misperception may be easily corrected.  Self-awareness is a virtue, especially in prison.  Anger is not.

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